In sports, mental toughness is what pushes those that are good, but not great, to greatness. One study of runners found that the higher the mental toughness the faster their finish times generally were[1].

It’s the drive to get up at 5am even when it’s snowing or raining and train. It’s training even when you’d rather be watching TV or sleeping.

Saying no to that extra beer or helping of food so that you can stay at a proper competitive weight.

It’s continuing to race even when your body says it’s not worth it anymore.

Or as recently retired pro cyclist Jens Voigt famously puts it:

Shut up legs!

It’s the same for top performing business owners

According to Graham Jones, former elite athlete coach and current executive coach, top athletes and top businesses share that same trait[2].

As freelancer’s or solo consultants, even as employees working remotely, you sit in an office for the day with no one around to make sure that you get your work done. It is up to you.

Top performers are going to show up in the office at the same time even when it’s nice and get down to work.

You’re going to need to make your work schedule just like a training schedule, and stick to it even when you don’t really want to, because it’s nice outside and being outside is way more fun than being inside.

Being a top performer is putting away Netflix, or whatever your vice may be. It’s removing Twitter from your computer if it’s a distraction so that you can work and pay your bills.

It’s getting back to client work even when something else seems more fun.

My tactic is to employ the Pomodoro Technique on days I’m not motivated. I force myself to cut all distractions for 25 minutes then I get up and walk around for 5 and get back at it for 25 more minutes.

What is your tactic going to be to improve your mental toughness and become a top performer?

  1. Mahoney, J., Gucciardi, D., Ntoumanis, N., & Mallet, C. (2014). Mental toughness in sport: Motivational antecedents and associations with performance and psychological health. Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology, 36(3), 281–292.  ↩
  2. Jones, G. (2008, June 1). How the best of the best get better and better. Harvard Business Review, 123–127.  ↩

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